Saratoga Horses in Focus for Thursday, September 3

RACE 6: OFFICER HUTCHY (#7)

This New York Stallion Series race features an intriguing cast of characters, topped by undefeated Finger Lakes shipper Spin a Yarn. She returns on just 8 days’ rest after easily winning her fourth race in as many starts. While it’s usually wise to be skeptical of horses shipping in from Finger Lakes, this is not the strongest New York-bred stakes you’ll see on the NYRA circuit. That last run was obviously a prep, and she could win this race if able to repeat the 104 TimeformUS Speed Figure she earned two back. Yet I’m a little skeptical of the form of that race, as a number of horses who finished behind her returned to regress in their subsequent starts. She could get some early pace pressure of Big Q, and I’m hoping that sets things up for her main rival Officer Hutchy. It might seem like that 109 TimeformUS Speed Figure she earned last time came out of nowhere, especially considering that it was a $25,000 claiming race. However, this filly showed real potential at the start of her career, actually finishing second in a $500,000 stakes event in this series in just her second start. It took her a while to get back in the groove off a layoff this summer, but she had legitimate excuses in her two starts prior to that last victory. While the final time for that event was very fast, Officer Hutchy’s performance seems legitimate, and the 14-length gap back to the third-place finisher would appear to corroborate it.

RACE 7: MUSIC OF LIFE (#10)

There are many contenders in this wide-open conditioned claiming event. The Todd Pletcher-trained entry of Kitten by the Sea and Team Win figures to attract plenty of support. The former is the more highly regarded of the pair, but her price will be dragged down by the presence of her entrymate. I’m not the biggest fan of either horse, and worry that Kitten by the Sea is heading in the wrong direction after fading badly against allowance company last time. The other major players are all coming out of claiming events. Sun Summers was somewhat compromised by a slow pace when she settled for second behind Bean Counter at this level last time. A repeat of that effort puts her in the mix, but it came against a thinner field. She was beating a very weak field two back and I think she’ll be overbet as she steps up in class. I’d actually be more interested in Five Alarm Robin at a better price, as she beat some of the same foes as Sun Summers in her July 29 victory, and did so in decisive fashion. She has to prove that she can handle the step back up in class, but she has prior form that makes her a contender and excuses for some of her recent losses. I’m using her prominently, but my top pick is Music of Life. This Danny Gargan trainee might just be the best horse in this race. She lost to Kitten by the Sea at Gulfstream back in February, but the Pletcher runner had everything her own way on the front end that day. Music of Life has since improved in a pair of starts for Gargan, closing into a slow pace to win two back before just missing against a classier field last time. She’s been off for over 3 months since then, but she’s been training well for her return.

RACE 9: MISS TEHERAN (#7)

If Lovely Lucky runs back to the effort she put forth in her N1X score from earlier in the meet, she’s probably going to beat this field. This 4-year-old filly looked like a completely different horse on the stretch-out in distance, showing improved early speed before rocketing away from her competition in the lane to win by nearly 7 lengths at 19-1. That 112 TimeformUS Speed Figure is the highest number in this field and it was validated when fifth-place finisher Cap de Creus returned to win at the same level at Saratoga last week. The question for Lovely Lucky to answer this time is whether she can duplicate that feat against tougher company while cutting back to a two-turn 1 3/16 miles. I won’t be shocked if she does so, but I’m not eager to accept a short price on a horse who paid $40 last time. Her main rivals appear to be an uncoupled pair of fillies from the Chad Brown barn, both of whom are making their first starts in this country. Chad Brown has excellent statistics with this move. Over the past 5 years, he is 12 for 31 (39%, $3.02 ROI) with 4-year-old and older foreign shippers in turf routes at NYRA. Orglandes returns from a 12-month layoff, and Miss Teheran makes her first start in 21 months. They each have a right to succeed here, but I prefer Miss Teheran. Both of these fillies may ultimately want more ground, but Miss Teheran appears to possess a turn of foot that will be well suited to American racing. Her final start over the all-weather surface at Deauville was quite impressive, as she rocketed past the field without her rider ever taking out his stick. Furthermore, she appears to be training well, outworking the solid allowance type She’s Got You in some recent drills.

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